inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #26 of 209: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 5 Aug 11 09:08
    
(can't anyone just join inkwell.vue and post directly if they want? thought
this was a public conference; but I could be rusty on what that actually
means.)
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #27 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 09:16
    
No, they have to send their comment via e-mail. They can read it with
no problem. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #28 of 209: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:00
    
jacques, i really resonate with your comments on no place for voice. i
looked around at the world of publications about 10 years ago and -knew- 'no
place for me' --- as all i really have on offer is voice. and when i tried
to explain to non-writer friends how i knew 'no place for me', they would
just not get it when i would try to explain the distinctive writerly voice
prob/publications seem more and more about one conforming to their editorial
stance. despair.

so in the spirit of scientific inquiry, i bought ed's KS (and to support him
as well), figuring it would be a good way to feel into whether or not this
might work for my own longer piece i have sitting in a drawer.

but, to be my contrarian self, i have long been uneasy about e-readers of
all kinds, for nicholas carr/neurovisual processing reasons --- and sure
enough, i found reading longform online that way the opposite of the deep
immersion i do with longform print. and i know -why- amazon doesnt let you
print --- but still, disturbing.

i also know what a bad corporate citizen amazon is --- between the sales tax
fu, the screwing over publishers on e-rights, the vanishing of the edition
of 1984 (1984!) that some kindle owners bought --- these things creep me
out. that amazon could revoke/take back/unpublish what i wrote --- made it
feel like 'this isnt really any kind of solution to my problem of lack of
venues for what i do'.  KS isnt -permanent-, as the way publishing in print
certainly, and online somewhat, is.

while i am -glad- jane's piece took off as it did, i am not convinced for
the rest of us --- who arent vibrant international brands (sorry, jane, to
have to characterize your good self as such. but you are!) --- that
publishing a KS will do much good. obviously a KSP means greater push from
amazon, and that has to be helpful.

but some of us have never been great at promotion --- even if we try; and
more times than might be apparent, all the marketing and promotion in the
world doesnt do much.

i am also not sure that my piece-in-the-drawer lends itself to easy
categorization/would organically find its audience; i have deeper concerns
that the kind of belle-lettres i do and only know how to do --- has a place
any more anywhere anyway...

so i decided to not go the KS route (seemed like violating too many of my
principles and instincts for what i felt would turn out to be very little $;
perhaps i -can- be bought, but not for so little) --- but i remain
interested in the process, and (perhaps), open to changing my mind.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #29 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:15
    
Paulina, have you thought about blogging them on Wordpress or
something similar?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #30 of 209: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:23
    
I want to disagree a little with Ed in <22>, where he said

>>  Anyone can self-publish, and, I'm afraid, that's who does. 

I have a soft spot for democracy, I guess, and an instinctive distrust
of authority figures anyway, but I love that anyone can self-publish
so easily now. Yeah, lots of it will be crap, but lots of it won't and
while most writers will never find a big audience - just as most don't
now - many will find great satisfaction in a small audience, the
ability to reach readers directly, and to encourage their own creative
impulses in a way the more traditional systems of publishing really did
not. Personally I feel unleashed by the ability to write and post
whatever I like.

I hang out these days with a lot of folks who are self-publishing
ebooks, and they are a remarkably talented and committed bunch. I am
more impressed by them and their writing than I would have imagined.
There are an awful lot of writers out there, even decent-to-great ones,
who were not quite in a commercial niche or who got tired of the query
round who are now able to reach for their dreams, and I think that's
wonderful.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #31 of 209: David Gans (tnf) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:34
    
This is happening in the music business, too, of course.  The playing field
has been leveled to a large extent, but along with that the ceiling has been
lowered considerably.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #32 of 209: Gail Williams (gail) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:40
    
This is true, but I like what jnfr said. 

I realize that I can love deeply amateur expression as well as adept
and honed professional expression.  One of the reasons I love
discussions in The WELL and other good forum-spaces is that they are so
often interesting communication in natural voices, with editorial
clarification built in to the interactions. Often the unpolished aspect
is part of what hooks me. I remember reading Cliff Stoll's "Silicon
Snake Oil" book, which has a topic from a WELL conference re-printed in
it. (With permission for each of the people who posted, of course). 
It read just fine, even in the midst of a book by an author with a
popular published book.  

There are decent-to-great authors and also decent-to-great
improvisational collaborations -- oops, I mean conversations --  that
are impressive and enjoyable.  I suspect that low-priced e-books can
fit into that ecology too.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #33 of 209: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:44
    
I hear the questions Paulina raises. I thought about them hard, and ended up
deciding that for me it's not dissimilar to the question of having our books
sold in the big chain stores, when that first began. Those megastores killed
off many independents and changed the landscape of publishing permanently.
Yet however much a person could still try to do everything possible to
support the independents, would you ask your publisher not to put your books
in the chains? A few writers refused to give readings in them, but I can't
think of anyone who asked not to be sold there. Like the chains, Amazon is
for many people the way to have access to what isn't otherwise available.
Like the chains, they sometimes try to do things in ways a person could
rightly question. We who participate in capitalist culture at all end up in
fuzzy terrain a lot of the time.

I really though would question the other part of your post--I would lay down
good money if I were a betting person that 99% of the people who bought The
Heart of Haiku had no idea who I was when they bought it. They're just
people who buy Kindle Singles. The other 1%, sure. This would not be the
same for Jon Krakauer or David Baldacci or Susan Orleans. But for me, the
only way my previous books might have made a difference is that the people
who gave The Heart of Haiku reviews knew my other writings, and vouched that
they're worth reading. That's not irrelevant, but I don't think it was the
main thing. The main thing was simply that it was there to be seen on the
Kindle Singles home page for the first month it was out, and remains
findable now if people look for previously published ones.

(And if anything was familiar--it was haiku. "Haiku," I can imagine someone
thinking. "Heard of that. Would like to know more, if I can find out on a
single sit down reading, and this sounds lively from the description." I
think subject matter plays a huge role in the non-fiction Kindle Singles,
much more than author.)

Since this topic's about alternative ways of publishing in general, Paulina,
I'm curious about your blog for the NY Times. How do you feel that fits into
this landscape? Or if anyone reading this blogs on the Huffington Post? The
general question here is about democratic access outside the "old media"
terrain of magazines and regularly-published books. (I realize your comments
probably have to do with writing on other topics than the blog's narrower
focus, and how to put those forward, or whether you want to... I'm all in
favor of "publishing" remaining a conscious choice, and kind of love the
periods when I go on publishing sabbaticals and just write to write. That
was my original relationship to writing, and remains the heart of it, for
me--put me alone on a desert island with no thought of rescue, I'd still
write.)
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #34 of 209: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:48
    
David's post about music business (which went up while I was typing the
above) is a great expansion of the conversation. Would love to hear more
about the details from that parallel art form, David, if you feel like
saying more.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #35 of 209: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Fri 5 Aug 11 10:52
    
(<dwilson> -- I'm doing one of those Arcadia books. I'm getting 10%.)
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #36 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 11:00
    
Well, the music biz stuf has been pretty well aired out, and this is
something rather newer, so let's save that discussion until we've
hacked out a better understanding of what digital publishing is, and
then we can start drawing the parallels. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #37 of 209: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 5 Aug 11 11:08
    
1st, jane, i think you may have me confused with <pspan>, -paula-. i most
certainly do not blog for the new york times!

2nd, and i cant tell you how many times in the last decade i have had to
explain this, i. am. so. not. a. blogger. my writing is
considered/literary/literate; comes from long periods of rumination; doesnt
read anything like blogs and isnt disposable like blogposts are. i have
never kept a journal; what i write i intend will be still usefully readable
years after it is created; privacy is important to me and i have no interest
in contributing to the bloviation/datasmog culture we live in. by contrast,
i have always been a letter-writer --- which means writing my take on things
at the moment to a particular person in a private exchange. again, so
different from a blogger.

if you have ever -read- anything i have written, i dont think you would
think 'she could be a blogger' (fwiw, tom jennings, helped me put together
an archival website of my work...paulinaborsook.com. it exists purely as
archive...)

for me also, there is the writely version of the epistemological qualm: if
you write something of value and there is no one to read it (which is the
fate of most blogs and most self-published work) --- why do it? for me,
there is a performative aspect to writing to be read.

a bias: i have hated self-publishing all my life, ever since i 1st came
across my 1st what-was-then-called vanity-press published book when i was
about seven years old. most of us need editors; work that has been edited
and curated is just generally more worth reading; and while i believe in
free speech (obviously) and self-expression, i dont necessarily want to read
what most people have to say about most things (this, in the sense of
'sitting down to read', obviously not in the sense of lurking through well
conferences.)

another bias: i loathe memoir as a form --- which in a way is what blogs can
be.

and jane, as for your wonderful success with your ksp, i feel that your
having a devoted community of folks (not just on the well) to launch/be
early adopters of your ksp -has- to have helped.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #38 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 11:10
    
While I'll say that by now there is no stereotype about what a blog
is, what the quality of writing on it is, and how it's valued by its
readers. 

It seems to me you have to start somewhere, and I'm not sure you are.
If I didn't put my stuff out in all kinds of ways at this point, I'd be
in even worse shape than I am. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #39 of 209: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 5 Aug 11 11:59
    
HUGE apologies, you are quite right I crossed wires on Paula's writing and
yours. Unforgivable lapse there. If this weren't a public conference, I'd
scribble the post. But then people wouldn't know what you were responding
to.

I can't do memoir type things or blog either, fwiw. That's why the Kindle
Single format appealed. I can faintly imagine someday wanting to write
something that might appear in a blog format though--just not using that
format regularly. The interesting overlap is the author's control of their
own material, that the author chooses what to say in a way less dictated by
others than "normal" magazine publishing. The departure, as you point out,
is editorial presence beyond the writer him/herself. I'm always really
grateful for a good copyeditor, which I had for my Single. Others have had
more editorial input than that. It all feels like some intermediate realm to
me--just as intended, I suspect. The length also--as I mentioned in the
byline conference in the Well, the Guardian in the UK has just started
offering "Guardian SHorts"--longer pieces than the newspaper itself can
accommodate, being sold by the piece online. (This is I think all generated
in house.) So one thing I think we can see pretty clearly already in these
new-format places is that there was a length-niche that was going unserved.
The minimum length of 5-6,000 words for all these venues (if that's the
right word) pretty much guarantees that the pieces can't be too blog-like--
something as long as even the minimum requires a lot of time to write, and
shape. That almost enforces a qualitative difference in how any piece of
writing will engage with its subject, whether fiction or non-fiction,
compared to shorter blog pieces. (Whether the result is good or bad I
suppose stays a question--but it will be different... this post might have
been more readable if it were a good bit shorter!)
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #40 of 209: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:07
    
Fiction writers are playing with different lengths for self-published
ebooks now, lengths that trade publishers wouldn't have accepted. Short
stories as singles or in compilations of course, but also the return
of novellas and shorter novels. Not every story is best written at
100,000 words, and there's more freedom to test those limits now.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #41 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:10
    
Why I'm thinking that two 6000+ word short stories I wrote some time
ago might be my next attempt. 

Offered to the editors first, then do the self-pub route if necessary.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #42 of 209: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:17
    
some blogs i find chatty/amusing --- particularly ones which are more like
graphic novels/cartoon strips. but generally, no, i dont find them a
replacement for what has been lost; i find it so sad that the divine <sumac>
is reduced to writing her episodic blog about the natural world --- where i
doubt her readership is by rights what it should be --- and of course no $.

there's another aspect to this i find disturbing: the whole 'american
idol'/'survivor'/ popularity contest/bidding process --- rather as if
everything at best has become a pta fund drive for new band uniforms. part
of a larger world of collecting 43,793 of your closest friends on FB...

i also dont know if 'success' is replicable; for example, if jane had
another essay lying around (which had taken her months to create), would it
garner the same response, with the same enthusiastic going viral? ed, will
your second effort garner the same support from your extended network as
presumably your 1st effort did? there is some feeling about this to me of
nonprofits who keep hitting one up for donations...

and jane, i take your point about work 6k words or longer by definition cant
be too bloglike...
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #43 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:23
    
I have no idea what that second one would do. Right now I'm waiting to
hear from a real agent about a real book proposal that's sitting at a
dozen real publishers, and of course that has priority, not just
because of the money, but because I'm fired up about it and want to hit
the road researching it in October. 

I'm still seeing how this e-thingle is working. Today (for those of
you who've read it) I remembered that Nikki is on Facebook and sent her
a "you're famous" link to it. She was thrilled, and told me that three
years ago she and her husband visited Letschin on what turned out to
be Alte Friz day and the Bartsches had a huge barbeque-and-beer setup
there. She was so knocked out that she's passing it on to her various
networks of nonprofit folks in the Southwest. I think a friend who
teaches creative writing may be requiring some students to buy it. 

So... wait and see. And, of course, jump at any possibilities which
come along in the meanwhile. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #44 of 209: Jacques Leslie (jacques) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:25
    
 Concerning questions way back in #20 and #21 about the Kindle Singles
editorial process, it’s pretty simple. You submit a story. An editor--
David Blum is the only one, I think-- decides whether he wants to publish it
as a KS. In my case, he came back with some suggestions for expanding it. I
am so used to writing tight to fit pieces into magazines that my essay
probably felt a little too compressed, and I was delighted that he asked me
to expand it. I followed some of his suggestions, ignored others, and
returned the expanded piece to him. He accepted this without further
revision. It then went through some kind of copy-editing, but whoever did
this wielded such a light hand that I noticed no changes. Then it was
published. All this took three weeks, which is stunning considering that the
process with most magazines takes several months.

On Jane’s question about The Atavist, I think the publishing process is
much the same as KS. Like KS, the Atavist’s site describes how to submit
proposals and completed stories, but a major difference is that it’s
already overwhelmed with submissions, and in any case for now only publishes
one story per month. As a result, the story I’ve been assigned won’t run
until November at the earliest, and may be much later depending on when I
finish it. Also, much more than KS, The Atavist is devoted to narrative
nonfiction-- it wants stories with characters and a fiction-like arc.

And Paulina, I share your concerns about Amazon’s politics and bad
corporate behavior. I had to weigh those issues against the pluses, and
decided in its favor. One major plus is that writers get 70% of the proceeds
from all domestic sales, compared with the relatively tiny percentage that
publishers offer, and writers also continue to own the rights, so a piece
could still be published as part of a book. Those aren't small
considerations.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #45 of 209: Paulina Borsook (loris) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:34
    
ed, i am so -glad- that your long-established networks are kicking in for
you to support your 1st KS!

and i do get the making-the-tradeoffs issue with amazon; i guess for me my
pessimism about whether/how my would-be KS would fare (not on a subject i am
known for) vs the ick factor about amazon/the process --- decided against it
for now.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #46 of 209: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:39
    
It might be good to note that official Singles have a different
royalty structure than self-published works do. Some of those get the
70% royalty rate, depending on the work, its price, and where the book
is bought. Some get 35% instead.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #47 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:44
    
So it seems KS offers a writer two options: self-published or
published and promoted by Kindle itself. As writers, do you always hope
for money and marketing for your offerings, or as Jacques and Ed have
alluded to, just find some things worth putting "out there" from the
heart, or whatever, irregardless.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #48 of 209: Jacques Leslie (jacques) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:53
    
Ted, I think "Kindle Singles" refers to the pieces that Amazon selects and
promotes; the self-published pieces don't have the KS designation.

As for me, I certainly want the imprimateur of a publisher (of some sort) on
what I write. I don't "put things out there" without it. In fact, aside from
essays, everything I work on is commissioned-- I've found that it's just not
worth the labor to work without a commission and the accompanying commitment
to publish.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #49 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 5 Aug 11 12:56
    
Thanks for clearing that up Jacques.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #50 of 209: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Fri 5 Aug 11 13:05
    
The publishing program is known as Kindle Direct Publishing, and it's
available to anyone. But Kindle's not the only venue for
self-publishing. Barnes & Noble's PubIt program for the Nook takes
self-published works. Smashwords takes original content which it sells
in its own store as well as supplying B&N, the Apple store, Kobo, and
some others.

But Amazon's the only site with a publishing program of its own, which
includes not only Kindle Singles, but some genre imprints like Thomas
& Mercer (a suspense line which is snatching up successful self-pubbed
authors like crazy). They also have an alliance with some traditional
publisher for print runs, but I can't remember who that is right now.
  

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